Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

email signup
Search Collections
Woman with smudged makeup. Click to enlarge.

Makeup continuity photo of Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind, 1939.

Film and Television

The Ransom Center's film and television collections offer rich resources for scholars working in history, music, and popular culture, as well as in motion picture and television history and criticism. The Center's collection contains more than ten thousand scripts for film, television, and radio; more than fifteen thousand posters, lobby cards, and other advertising materials; more than one million photographs, including film stills, portraits and publicity photographs, set and location reference stills, makeup and wardrobe stills, and candid, behind-the-scenes photographs. Although the bulk of the collection covers Hollywood's Golden Age (1930-1950), the full collection spans the history of the cinema and television industries. The collaborative nature of these media is recognized in the substantial archives of performers, writers, musicians, production designers, artists, and business people.

Major Collections

The David O. Selznick (1902-1965) archive, the largest archive at the Ransom Center, occupies almost five thousand document cases, and spans the career of the famed Hollywood producer. Selznick began his film career working for his father Lewis's production companies. In 1926 he joined MGM as a reader and quickly rose to assistant producer. Two years later, Selznick left MGM to become executive assistant at Paramount. In 1931 he moved to RKO as vice president in charge of production. Having married Irene Mayer, the daughter of MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer, in 1930, Selznick returned to MGM in 1933 and there produced such films as Dinner at Eight (1933), David Copperfield (1935), Anna Karenina (1935), and A Tale of Two Cities (1935). The Ransom Center has materials related to many of these films.

Selznick, in partnership with John Hay "Jock" Whitney, formed his first independent film production company, Selznick International Pictures, in 1935. Movies produced under the SIP aegis include A Star is Born (1937), The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), Nothing Sacred (1937), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938), and Gone with the Wind (1939). Selznick was responsible for bringing the Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman and the British director Alfred Hitchcock to Hollywood. While under contract to Selznick, Hitchcock directed such movies as Rebecca (1940), Spellbound (1945), and Notorious (1946). The Ransom Center maintains sizable archives for these and other SIP and Selznick/Hitchcock productions.

Selznick began liquidation of SIP in 1940, forming David O. Selznick Productions the same year and then Vanguard Films in 1942. He continued to produce his own pictures but also supported his enterprise by selling developed projects and loaning out his contract stars to other studios. In 1946, Selznick created his own distribution company, Selznick Releasing Organization. He entered into European coproduction beginning with The Third Man (1949), and he produced a live television special celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of electricity, Light's Diamond Jubilee, in 1954. A Farewell to Arms (1957) marked the last film Selznick personally produced, though he continued to keep an active interest in the film business until his death in 1965.

The David O. Selznick Archive covers the years from 1916 to 1966 with most of the material dating from the mid-1930s through the mid-1950s. The archive includes appointment books, audio recordings, awards, balance sheets, call sheets, clippings, correspondence, journal vouchers, ledgers, memos, minutes, music, notebooks, photographic prints and negatives, props, scrapbooks, scripts, and telegrams. With these materials one can trace the evolution of such films as Gone with the Wind (1939) from story purchase through script development, casting, design, production, exploitation, distribution, and reissue. Though most of the material represents Selznick's independent career, there are also records from his father's companies and his work at RKO, Paramount, and MGM. There is also documentation of productions Selznick developed and sold and of projects that were never realized. The archive touches on virtually every major Hollywood person, studio, and event of Selznick's day.

Complementing the Selznick holdings are the collections of Selznick's long-time friend and business partner, film financier John Hay "Jock" Whitney (1904-1982), and the estate collection from Selznick's brother, Hollywood talent agent Myron Selznick (1898-1944). The Myron Selznick Archive contains materials related to his clients—including Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Rosalind Russell, William Powell, and George Cukor—and provides unique insight into the hugely important role of the Hollywood agent.

The papers of film actress Gloria Swanson (1899-1983) document her career as a pioneer in the motion picture industry and as an icon of both the silent era (Sadie Thompson, 1928) and the sound era (Sunset Boulevard, 1950). The items in her archive include correspondence, production papers, materials for her autobiography, Swanson on Swanson, over five hundred books and film scripts, and twenty thousand photographs ranging from production stills to publicity shots to personal family snapshots. As a businesswoman Swanson also kept extensive records of her efforts, which included cosmetics, a fashion line, hosiery, an inventions and patents company, a travel agency, and various writing assignments. The collection also contains evidence of Swanson's varied personal enthusiasms: art, fashion, health and nutrition (her papers document a tireless crusade against chemical additives, inorganic pesticides, and pollution), music, psychic phenomena and religion, politics (her campaign activities for Ronald Reagan and others), science and technology, and travel.

The Ernest Lehman (1915-2005) archive consists of over twenty-five hundred items from the personal and professional files of this prominent screenwriter, film producer, director, novelist, short story writer, and journalist. Photos and correspondence document a career that has spanned over forty years in New York and Hollywood, during which Lehman has won more Best Screenplay awards from the Writer's Guild than anyone in the Guild's history. Original manuscripts include Executive Suite (1954), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), The King and I (1956), North by Northwest (1959), West Side Story (1961), and The Sound of Music (1965). Several of the gems of this archive are Lehman's two hundred thousand-word diary of the making of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and his extensive work with Alfred Hitchcock, which includes eighty hours of recorded story conferences. The collection is extensively annotated in Lehman's own hand so that scholars can trace the development of each Lehman project from its inception, through first notes, outlines, drafts and revisions, to its final form. Critical reception of each film's success or failure is consistently reflected in the extensive media coverage also contained in the archive.

The archive of actor, producer and director Robert De Niro (b. 1943) was acquired in 2006. The paper portion of the archive includes notes, scripts and books with handwritten notations, correspondence with film notables such as Martin Scorsese and Elia Kazan, background research, photographs and publicity materials showing the evolution from initial concept to treatment to moving image. Virtually all of the actor's films are represented including Mean Streets (1973), The Godfather: Part II (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995) and Wag the Dog (1997). The collection also includes 35mm prints of most of his films, videotapes and DVDs, and hundreds of reels associated with De Niro's directorial debut, A Bronx Tale. The costume portion of the collection includes more than 3,000 individual costume items and props from many of De Niro's films.

Also included in the Center's film collections is the archive of screenwriter and director Paul Schrader (b. 1946). The collection includes outlines and drafts of scripts and screenplays, correspondence, production materials, video and audio tapes, press and publicity materials, photographs and juvenilia. Most of Schrader's films are represented, including such iconic films as Taxi Driver (1976), Blue Collar (1978), Raging Bull (1980), American Gigolo (1980), Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985), The Mosquito Coast (1986), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), The Comfort of Strangers (1990) and Affliction (1997). Schrader's early work as a film critic for the Los Angeles Free Press is represented as well as his book "Transcendental Style in Film," an analysis of the work of film directors Yasajiro Ozu, Robert Bresson and Carl Dreyer.

The archive of prominent film and theater producer Lewis Allen (1922-2003) includes scripts, correspondence, business records, and promotional materials for many of his productions. Of particular note are his films The Lord of the Flies, Fahrenheit 451 , Swimming to Cambodia , and The Queen. His stage work is well represented and includes material on Annie, A Lie of the Mind, Ballad of the Sad Café, A Few Good Men, and Master Class. The collection is complemented by the archive of his wife, screenwriter and playwright Jay Presson Allen.

The Interstate Theater Circuit began in 1905 when Karl Hoblitzelle (1879-1967) opened his first theater, the Majestic, in Dallas. Hoblitzelle and his brother George hoped to create a vaudeville circuit in the Southwest, which had virtually no theaters at the time. The Hoblitzelles opened the Interstate Amusement Company in 1905, whose first theaters included the Dallas, Fort Worth and Waco Majestic Theaters and the San Antonio Empire theater. Comprising over one million cinema artifacts, the Hoblitzelle Interstate Theater Collection contains business records, financial and legal files, and publicity correspondence dating from the 1930s through the 1960s. An extensive collection of popular sheet music used to accompany the showing of silent films is also preserved. Production shots, publicity stills, four thousand movie posters, press kits, and lobby cards form the bulk of the collection.

Screenwriting

In addition to the Ernest Lehman and Paul Schrader collections, the Ransom Center houses the collections of several important American screenwriters.

The collection of playwright and scriptwriter Jay Presson Allen (1922-2006) includes manuscript materials, notes, drafts, and scripts for numerous projects, such as Hitchcock's Marnie (1964), and Sidney Lumet's Prince of the City (1982), for which she was nominated for an Oscar, as well as The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), Cabaret (1972, also an Oscar-nominee), Travels with My Aunt (1972), and Deathtrap (1982). The collection is complemented by the archive of her husband, noted film and theater producer Lewis Allen.

A small collection of script materials by actor/writer Steve Martin (b. 1945) includes early manuscript drafts for several of his films, including ¡Three Amigos! (1986), Roxanne (1987), and L.A. Story (1991).

The complete archives of the noted screenwriter Warren Skaaren (1946-1990) include rich resources for his work as author and script doctor on such notable motion pictures as Top Gun (1986), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), Beetlejuice (1988), and Batman (1989). Also included in the archive are important papers and correspondence relating to his work for the Texas Film Commission. In 1971, while working for Texas governor Preston Smith, Skaaren wrote a formal proposal to establish the Texas Film Commission and was influential in its creation. He served as the Commission's first executive director and remained in that position until March 1974, when he resigned to form the Skaaren Corporation, a media consulting firm. At the same time, he was a founder of FPS, Inc., a Dallas-based television and film production company, and later served as chairman of its board of directors. Skaaren also worked on documentaries, commercials, and various other projects. All of Skaaren's significant works are represented in the Ransom Center's collection, including his earliest projects such as the 1978 Breakaway, documenting the life of Walter Yates in the Alaskan wilderness, and the teenage romance Fire with Fire (1986). Although Skaaren was known for his ability to rewrite scripts by other authors, he also wrote numerous original screenplays, poetry, and songs that were never produced or published. Among unproduced scripts are Flawless, The Crimson Eagle, and Beetlejuice in Love. Because Skaaren kept letters and memos with the manuscripts of his works, correspondence is scattered throughout the collection, along with books, primarily used by Skaaren in his research, and videos that Skaaren acquired for purposes of research, for personal interest, and as screen tests, dailies, and preview prints of films on which he worked.

Acting

In addition to the Robert De Niro and Gloria Swanson collections, the Ransom Center houses the collections of several actors.

The collection of the legendary acting teacher Stella Adler contains teaching notes and correspondence, supplemented by hundreds of hours of audio and video recordings of her classes in New York and Los Angeles. (For more on the Adler collection, see Performing Arts.)

Ann Savage (1921 – 2008) appeared in a number of low budget films such as Saddles and Sagebrush (1943), Renegade Girl (1946) and The Woman They Almost Lynched (1953) for Columbia, Republic and the “poverty row” studios, but she is primarily known today for her role as the sneering cigarette smoking femme fatale in the classic film noir Detour (1945). Savage's collection includes scripts, correspondence, posters, lobby cards, film stills and 16mm prints of some of her films including Detour. Of particular note is Savage's script for Detour, the only copy known to survive.

Actor Zachary Scott (1914 -1965) grew up in Austin and attended the University of Texas before turning to acting. He appeared on Broadway, on television and in such films as Mildred Pierce (1945), The Southerner (1945) and Born to be Bad (1950). His collection includes scripts, correspondence, photographs and posters.

Art Direction & Design

The collection of prominent British Art Director Alfred Junge (1886-1964) consists of over one hundred seventy original designs and five thousand stills and design photographs made for British films from 1920 to 1960. Junge's work includes material for Secret Agent (1936), Black Narcissus (1947), and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939).

The Norman O. Dawn (1884-1975) collection introduces the career of this early special effects cinematographer, inventor, artist, and motion picture director, writer, and producer. The collection consists of nearly one hundred thirty display cards that illustrate more than two hundred thirty of the special effects Dawn created for more than eighty movies.

The collection of Edward Carrick (Edward Anthony Craig, 1905-1998), who was head of the art department at Rank Studios, contains over fourteen hundred original designs by some of the most prominent production designers and art directors for the British film industry from 1930 to 1950. The collection includes designs for such films as The Red Shoes (1948), Oliver Twist (1948), Brief Encounter (1946), and Caesar and Cleopatra (1945). (See also Edward Gordon Craig, who was Carrick's father, in Performing Arts.)

The B. J. Simmons Collection of costume design documents the dressing of over eighty films by this London costume firm. (For more on the Simmons collection, see Performing Arts.) In addition, the Personal Effects collection contains several important original film props and costumes, such as those from Gone With The Wind (1939), Showboat (1936), An Affair to Remember (1957).

The papers of Thomas G. Smith, the first head of Industrial Light and Magic, include scripts, publicity and production materials including special effects storyboards and pre-production research. The papers document Smith's professional work through the 1980's and 1990's and include material on a number of the most important and influential films of that period including Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. (1982), Star Trek: The Search for Spock (1983), and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983).

Production & Promotion

The collection of King Vidor (1894-1982) consists of photographs, scripts, props, publicity materials, production reports, studio memos, and other production materials primarily from the 1941 film H. M. Pulham, Esquire. Vidor donated the Pulham materials to The University of Texas Drama Department in conjunction with his guest lecture on movie making at the university on December 3, 1941.

The Nicholas Ray (1911 – 1979) papers includes scripts, storyboards, production photographs and film stills, interview transcripts, and personal effects. With the notable exception of Johnny Guitar (1954), most of the films directed by Ray are represented to some extent. Of particular interest are the storyboards for the climax of Rebel Without a Cause (1955). There is a significant amount of personal and career-related materials from the 1960's and 1970's, including correspondence, journals, and photographs, much of it related to Ray's teaching and his last film, made with his students, We Can't Go Home Again (1973).

The William S. Hart (1864 – 1946) collection consists 35 film scripts and 9 boxes of photographs documenting Hart's professional life as both actor and director in Hollywood from 1917 to 1921. The images include portraits, production stills, credits, sketches, and background photos and were assembled by Le Roy Stone, who produced many of Hart's features.

The collection of material from the life and career of Woody Allen (b.1935), collected by Andreas Brown, includes screenplays, playscripts, cast and production information, lobby cards, posters, pressbooks, presskits, souvenir programs, publicity stills, articles by and about Allen, short stories, photographs, and Allen memorabilia. Nearly all films and plays for which Allen was the director, screenwriter, actor and/or producer are represented in some measure.

The collection of Lester Cowan (1907-1990), independent Hollywood producer of ten films from the 1930s-1950s, contains material relating to the 1945 film The Story of G. I. Joe, based on the writings of the journalist Ernie Pyle. Of particular interest is Arthur Miller's early work on the screenplay. Miller was the first of several writers to work on the film.

The collection of Irwin Marguiles (1907-1976) consists mainly of correspondence, notes, and contracts Margulies either produced or received as courtesy copies while he was employed by Horizon Pictures. Most of the material in this collection is related to the 1962 production of Lawrence of Arabia.

The Philip Sills, Robert Downing (1914-1975), Albert Davis, and John Robbins collections contain more than five hundred thousand movie stills and posters from 1910 to 1978, while the E.V. Richards (1886-1960) collection of pictures of theater and theater personnel adds depth to any study of film promotion and exhibition. The records of the early film exhibitor include photographs, business files, and publications that document the movie theater business in the silent and early sound eras.

The collection of Jack Harris one of Hollywood's greatest "still men" (photographers who document the making of films), includes photographs and papers related to The Ten Commandments (1956), The Magnificent Seven (1960), and The Apartment (1960). The collection spans the years 1947-1982.

The archive of Maurice Zolotow is a cache of popular culture, containing research material and drafts for biographies of John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe.

Television

The Ransom Center television script collection contains more than six thousand scripts for a variety of shows ranging from I Love Lucy and Bonanza to Charlie's Angels and The Brady Bunch.

The script collection of Theodore Apstein (1918-1998) is composed of Apstein's work for Hallmark Hall of Fame, General Electric Theater, U.S. Steel Hour, Chrysler Theater, and other anthology television programs, as well as scripts collected by the television and screenwriter from the 1950s to the late 1970s.

The Mike Wallace Interviews collection is unique, containing more than fifty original sixteen-millimeter kinescopes of interviews Wallace (b. 1918) conducted for television during the years 1957 and 1958 and now available in digital form on the web site. Those in the hotseat include such notables as Eleanor Roosevelt, Kirk Douglas, Margaret Sanger, and Salvador Dali.

The Michael Zinberg collection contains scripts and production materials from this writer, producer, and director, including television series and pilots such as The Bob Newhart Show, The Yellow Rose, and Fathers and Sons.

The Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970) collection contains hundreds of teleplays, scripts and memorabilia from the TV show Perry Mason.

The Reading Room Will Be Closed:

December 20-31, 2014
January 1, 2015
January 19, 2015
May 25, 2015

Always closed on Sundays

The Mike Wallace Interview

Watch broadcast journalist Mike Wallace's interviews from the television program The Mike Wallace Interview. Wallace donated the show's footage on 16mm kinescope to the Ransom Center in the early 1960s. Most episodes have not been seen since they aired.

Watch the interviews